A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. (Isa 11:1-3)
While I was pastoring, Connie and I would occasionally be so in awe of some parishioner’s kindness, devotion, or service that we would say something like, “I wish we had more people like X” or even “With a church full of Xs we could make a real difference here.” Truly excellent people are such a rarity that we take notice when we meet one. When someone rises above the herd to do something extraordinary, we ask, “Are there any more at home like you?”
Maybe that sense of surprise is at least part of Saul’s reaction when David slew Goliath: “Saul said to him, ‘Whose son are you, young man?’ And David answered, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite'” (1 Sam 17:58). It would have been quite natural if Saul’s next question had been, “Do you have any brothers?”
Fast forward a few hundred years, and David’s royal house has experienced its share of ups and downs. A new young king is on the throne, and unlike his grandfather Manasseh and his father, Amon, Josiah seems serious about serving God and restoring Judah to faithfulness. This son of Jesse looks like the real deal!
Two generations later, however, Nebuchadrezzar marched through a still unrepentant Judah, captured Jerusalem, and deported the house of David and other leading families to Babylon. The people longed for another David to set them free and reverse their national calamity.
Jesse, do you have any more sons you could send us?
O Root of Jesse, Standard of the nations and of kings;
whom the whole world implores:
come and deliver us.